After weeks and weeks of cloudy nights, tonight the sky opens up like velvet. Even from my lamp lit street, the darkness is full of star light. In these conditions some hundreds of stars are visible to my eye–only a tiny fraction of the 300 billion (plus or minus 100 billion) stars on our little galaxy. Of course, some of those stars are actually clusters of millions of stars, and a couple are even galaxies of their own. I am reminded of the immense vastness of our Universe. We can see about 13.7 billion lightyears from our home, which is less than the full volume of space today. 13.7 billion lightyears is 82,200,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles.
How vast is space, and how tiny is our own Sun. Yet to us it is massive–you could fit 1,000,000 Earths inside the sun. It is this one sun that keeps our plants alive, supporting all life on earth. It is this one Sun, in all its modesty, that keeps our planet the right temperature for us. On a cosmic scale, our sun is not worthy of special notice. At intergalactic distances, our sun is difficult to discern. But it is our sun.
The human brain is made up of 80 to 120 million neurons. Despite the vastness of all creation, it is by far the most complex thing we've found. It is a marvel, this delicate dance of electrochemical reactions, a tempest of energy that produces no traditional work. Despite being small and incapable of movement, the human brain demands 25% of our oxygen. We may speak of the heart's role in love, or the fear in our gut but the true seat of humanity is all the grey matter in our skulls.
Our bodies know this. No organ receives the same consideration as the brain. Only the brain is completely enclosed in an armored shell. Only the brain's every whim is catered to by a host of other systems. Our brains are so important that we are born too soon so our heads are small enough to allow us to escape the womb–the large brains of our parents affording us a luxury other animals can't afford: helpless infants.
Tonight, as I look at the starts, I contemplate the brain. Light is traveling incredible distances, and my brain takes the fragmented, distorted data from my eyes and creates a vivid vista. In the face of all this beauty, my brain contemplates the state of another across my city. This brain rests in a hospital bed, surrounded by other brains that love it. The electrochemical reactions in it have produced incredible actions from its body. The information it has processed produced ethics, integrity, patience, love and a lasting impression on so many other biochemical storms we call people. Like the sun, this brain may not be visible from other galaxies, but its localized effects are profound indeed. This brain has been the light, warmth and gravity for its own family system. This brain is the foundation of a man who is worthy of emulation. A man who is too humble to believe how highly regarded he is.
I am looking at the stars, and I am praying to the One who made them about one particular brain.